JCB’s eye-catching design for the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation has attracted a lot of attention since its completion last year – and not just because of its vivid yellow sculptural façade. Currently shortlisted in the 2017 Victorian Architecture Awards for Educational Architecture, it was also the focus of a recent feature in The Sydney Morning Herald which included an interview with JCB director Graham Burrows. The only centre of its kind in Australia, the GCCMC combines the theory and practice of cultural materials conservation through a program of education, research and commercial activities led by academics and industry professionals.
The design brief involved converting an existing University of Melbourne building on Swanston Street into a cleverly arranged and purpose built sequence of laboratories, specialist storage spaces, exhibition entry, offices and meeting rooms. Sustainability was a key consideration due to the specific temperature and humidity requirements for conservation work, as was the retention of existing Elm trees along Swanston Street. As for that bright façade, it’s a playful homage to Ron Robertson-Swann’s Vault, a striking yellow sculpture that occupies the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art forecourt at Southbank.